About Mountain Kids Swim Lessons
Mountain Kids Swim Lessons was started in the Summer of 2020 at Tie Lake in the East Kootenays BC, by me, Sarah Laverick. In pre-COVID times, I was working at Fernie Aquatic Center as a qualified National Lifeguard and Red Cross Water Safety Instructor. We were shut down in March 2020, and with no opening or swim lesson offerings in sight, I decided to do something about it.
After many lesson requests from local families, I shared a survey on social media to gauge interest in participating in private lessons at a local lake and was overwhelmed with dozens of positive responses in less than 24 hours. I went ahead and put together a Facebook page with booking system, opened up 3 weeks of lessons with 3 days a week to begin with and was almost fully booked out within 4 days of launching. By the end of the Summer, I taught 6 weeks of lessons in total and every week was booked solid. Mountain Kids Swim Lessons was born!
After scoping out all the local lakes, I decided that Tie Lake was perfect for teaching beginner lessons. It is well maintained with change rooms, picnic tables, toilets, ample parking and lots of space to socially distance. The public swimming area is enclosed by a buoy line of approximately 35-40 meters wide by 10-15 meters from the shore out to the line. It is a gradually sloping beach at a consistent angle (no sharp drop offs), with the deepest few meters before the buoy line being about 2-2.5 meters deep. There's plenty of smooth sand, beautiful shells, cool rocks and dragonflies to find!
Most swimmers last year were beginners, with many families expressing the challenges of trying to book their kids into pool lessons up to 45 minutes away, 2 days a week with multiple kids in different levels. Others were concerned their kids just weren’t making much progress in group classes and wanted a more individualized approach. I was actually very shocked to find how many kids, even up to the age of 10, who were not able to swim more than 2 meters independently or float on their back. I want to change that, starting with the South Country. Not only is swimming fun and necessary for many water based activities, it is a life saving skill that also improves fitness, motor coordination, safety awareness and confidence.
Summer 2021 was just as fun! We expanded to offer lessons 4 days a week for 8 weeks. starting the last week of June and running until the last week of August. After booking out all lessons in 48 hours, a new second instructor was hired to double the lessons running each day too, and was an excellent addition to the team. Those lessons were nearly all booked out in 4 days, and the waitlist grew to the point that a third instructor would have had a full schedule of bookings too! This will certainly be taken into account when planning lessons for Summer 2022. We faced a few challenges early on with COVID restrictions and an intense heatwave, followed by smoky skies and fires all around, and ended with much needed heavy rains and thunderstorms. That's just the nature of teaching outdoors in the elements!
We look forward to creating an even better program and booking system for 2022, we hope to see you all there!
About Your Instructors
Head Swim Instructor / Founder
Standard First Aid with CPR-C
Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (and Independent Training Partner)
AustSwim Instructor (previous)
Lifesaving Society Instructor
Autism Swim (in progress)
Aqua Sensory (in progress)
Prior to moving to Canada in early 2018, I worked as a Swim Instructor and Coach at multiple swim schools in Sydney (Australia), while completing a Bachelor of Human Sciences (Major in Community Services). I have been working and volunteering with kids for about 15 years in various outdoor education and sporting activities in Australia, the UK, France, Cambodia and Canada.
I completed my AustSwim training and qualification in 2015 and never looked back; I fell in love with it. There's something magical about spending time with 3 year olds as they discover the strange and wonderous environment of the water, and seeing their excitement grow as they learn and develop their skills to play and swim. I had the special opportunity of simultaneously studying child development, psychology and education, which really made me realize how amazing and complex the art of learning to swim really is. Trusting a stranger to keep you alive, using your newly developed motor skills to float and move in water, and building confidence and strength.
I had to come back to it when I settled in Fernie, completing my Red Cross Water Safety Instructor training and qualification in early 2019 (recertified 2021) and teaching at Fernie Aquatic Center until we got shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19. I completed my National Lifeguard (with Standard First Aid and CPR-C) training and qualification in mid-2018 in Toronto (both recertified in early 2022), as well as my Lifesaving Instructor training in Fernie in early 2022. I am now a Permanent Resident of Canada and have no plans of leaving!
My instructing style is kind, patient and encouraging. I believe that building a trusting relationship and connection with a swimmer comes first and foremost. Once they feel safe and supported, their skill development and confidence just grows and grows. There is no timeframe for progress and improvement, every swimmer gets there in their own time, in their own way. My goal is for them to go a little further than the lesson before, with a little more confidence; rather than trying to reach standards against other swimmers or complex marking criteria. I look forward to meeting your little swimmers soon, so our adventures at the lake can begin!